(I captured all the pictures in this blog while in my fifties, most of them in my late fifties.)
The Old Fart Photographer
Photography encourages us to embrace our limitations.
Okay, so I’m (Doug Brauner) The Old Fart Photographer (thanks Terry Reed for the name). I have a series of blogs planned for people who are entering the Seasoned time of life. Photography is a wonderful hobby that doesn’t need a second mortgage on your house. But don’t let that scare you off if your, say, a twenty-something. These blogs will help all of us enjoy this special pastime.
Our brains say we’re twenty but our bodies speak the truth.
We still fantasize about driving a golf ball 300 yards, hanging out with friends until three in the morning, and playing guitar with Eric Clapton. (Okay, so the lat fantasy is mine and has nothing to do with physical limitations.) The fact is that many of us are physically limited by the process of aging.
My best friend today is Ibuprofen as I’ve wrestled with back pain for a several years. Not only do I struggle with back pain, but a new joint in my big toe has affected the pace at which I walk. A few years back I summited my first fourteen thousand foot peak. The climb was difficult, but the descent was even more painful on my knees.
I still want to do the things I did when I was in my twenties and thirties, but my body tells me to forget it.
I’d be okay with all of this if it weren’t for the three photography magazines I read. These magazines are not oriented toward us seasoned photographers. Photographers write about beautiful mountain top vistas that I’d love to reach, but I know I never will. I’d love to carry my tripod to the top of one of these peaks and catch a morning sunrise, or capture a pristine alpine lake, but most days I’d probably be endangering my life (okay, so I exaggerate).
We have two choices as older photographers.
Choice #1: Giving up photography
We can choose to give up and declare that the art of photography is a young person’s hobby and profession. That’s a tough pill to swallow. I can’t imagine saying that I’m finished with photography and giving my equipment to some relative or putting it up for sale on eBay, yet this might feel like the only choice for some of us.
Since we can’t climb every mountain, and maybe not even a mole hill, we’re tempted to give up. We lose our vision for photography because we can’t capture what our hearts desire.
Choice #2: Embracing our limitations
A better choice is to embrace our limitations and take pictures anyway. We’re not dead yet. There is no gravestone with our name on it and an inscription which quotes Mark 14:8, “She did what she could.” We might not move as fast, as far, or as often as we once did, but we can still push a shutter button, decide what aperture to use, and edit our pictures.
Our limitations have a way of slowing us down, and in this process of slowing down we look at the world differently than in our younger days. Notice that I said we see the world differently. I didn’t say that this perspective was better or worse. We have fifty plus years of experience, something a person in their twenties doesn’t have. More than likely we’ve seen more joys and sorrows, mountains and valleys, strife and forgiveness than when we were a twenty-something.
The world will miss our perspective of life if we laid down our cameras and gave up.
Pictures tell a story and we need to tell these stories along with those of younger people. We older people make an important contribution to this story telling magic, so, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, it’s time to embrace our limitation; to embrace our worldview and share it with the world
Copyright Douglas P Brauner